Skorton tours Africa to build and strengthen partnerships

When the inaugural class of Cornell's Master of Professional Studies degree program in international agriculture and rural development celebrated Commencement on July 4 at Bahir Dar University in Ethiopia, Cornell President David Skorton was there to congratulate them.

"By studying engineering, agriculture and the social sciences and carrying out research projects, the Masters of Professional Studies students have learned the skills needed to manage watersheds," Skorton said to the class of 19 students in Cornell's first degree program in Africa. He added that the graduates would "help improve agricultural productivity and the ability of the people of Ethiopia to grow and obtain adequate food -- all the while protecting the land and water so that future generations can continue to live and prosper here."

He was joined by his wife, Robin Davisson, professor of biomedical sciences, and Alice Pell, vice provost for international relations. In an effort to strengthen and build partnerships with other African universities, the group visited Mwanza, Tanzania, to tour the Weill Bugando medical complex that includes Bugando University College of Health Sciences and Bugando Medical Centre. The group also toured the National University of Rwanda (NUR) in Butare, and Skorton met with NUR's rector, Silas Lwakabamba. They also visited the Partners in Health program in Rwinkwavu, Rwanda, which combats HIV, malaria and drug-resistant tuberculosis.

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Sabina Lee